If its record-smashing box office performance is any indication, “Black Panther” has set a new standard for movies. As a superhero epic, it delivers on the essentials. It has dazzling special effects, superb design, and satisfying, bone-crushing fight scenes, all made better in 3D. Were “Black Panther” a mere action movie, it would satisfy most of its audience, and distinguish itself as a solid addition to the genre.
But the fawning media coverage has made abundantly clear that “Black Panther” is to be seen as more than just a movie. It is an atonement for white guilt, to which quasi-religious devotion is due.